An increase of more than 250 per cent in the cost of hiring the artificial surface at Rothesay Joint Campus is perfectly fair, Argyll and Bute Council has insisted.
The authority has approved plans to bring in a flat rate of £55 per hour for the hire of a full synthetic pitch across the council area - which, in Rothesay, means a 260 per cent increase over the next four years from the current rate of £15.27.
But a news release on the subject - in common with a report considered by councillors at two meetings already this month - fails to make any commitment to put Bute’s sports clubs on an equal footing by upgrading the Rothesay surface to the same 3G standard as all the council’s other artificial pitches.
Councillor Robin Currie, the authority’s policy lead for community and culture, said: “The council is providing as many opportunities as possible to make sure that everyone can be as healthy and active as possible.
“Communities need a range of leisure and learning opportunities so that everyone, no matter what their age, ability or interest, has the means to pursue physical activity.
“It is only right and fair that a policy should be introduced to ensure all parts of Argyll and Bute have the same charge for the hire of synthetic pitches.
“To give clubs and individuals time to adjust to the new charges, we have arranged a phased approach over four years.”
The new rates also include discounts for block bookings and for groups aged under 17.
Opponents, however, have claimed the new regime will also result in the council earning substantially more from hiring out the facilities; Bute SNP councillor Isobel Strong told the authority’s annual budget meeting on February 12 of her view that the move amounted to “making money out of our young people”.